I have received a postal requisition from the police to attend court. This was posted on 15 May 2015 and related to a speeding allegation on 29 October 2014, when I was actually stopped ay an officer at the scene. I do not dispute speeding as alleged. I thought that the police only had 6 months to bring me to court?
Just Motor Law replied: Previously, many of these cases were brought to court by way of a court summons. Now however, the police send you a Postal Requisition. If the offence had been brought to court by way of summons then the police had bring the proceedings within six months from the date of the alleged offence. If they did not bring proceedings within the time limits then the court would have no jurisdiction to hear a case and the matter would be withdrawn.
However, the Postal Requisition system is a relatively new one, where it is the police themselves who send out the court date and information regarding the offences. The legislation that governs this creates slightly different requirements on the police who prosecute the case. Part 7 of the Criminal Procedure Rules S7.2 (5) a states that the police must “issue” a written charge no more than 6 months after the date of these summary offences or if an exception offence, within six months from the date on which sufficient evidence came to the knowledge of the prosecutor to warrant proceeding.
The Criminal Justice Act 2003 Part 4 S29 states:
“New method of instituting proceedings
(1) A public prosecutor may institute criminal proceedings against a person by issuing a document (a “written charge”) which charges the person with an offence.
(2) Where a public prosecutor issues a written charge, it must at the same time issue a document (a “requisition”) which requires the person to appear before a magistrates' court to answer the written charge.
(3) The written charge and requisition must be served on the person concerned and a copy of both must be served on the court named in the requisition.”
It is not clear from the Act what “issued” actually means and I cannot see that the Court of Appeal has considered this issue in any recent cases since Postal Requisitions have come into use. There are two potential arguments, either that it is “issued” when the police decide to charge ie the date of charge which would appear on the back of the Postal Requisition or when the Postal Requisition and charge are actually served on the defendant and the court. I would favour the latter as the former argument would seem to entirely defeat the object of time limits. This is an untested point of law and we would have to raise a legal argument at court. If the argument is successful then I would expect your prosecution to be withdrawn.
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